What takes two farm kids from Maryland and catapults them to multiple National Champion Titles in both the Livestock Judging & Show Arenas? A combination of fierce competitiveness, family and love for what they do.
“If you love it that much, there’s zero reason you cannot accomplish it.”
Chris and Randy Mullinix’s lives are our version of the American Dream. They grew up 30 minutes West of Baltimore and 1 hour outside of Washington D.C. They were raised on a farm family consisting of their mom Charlotte, dad Gene, three older siblings, Doug, Mark and Beth, and younger brother Patrick. 100% of the Mullinix family’s income came from their work in Agriculture. They worked the land and the majority of their dad’s day-to-day was spent working their two grain elevators. Chris and Randy’s passion, however, was on the animal side of it. The Mullinix’s primarily raised cattle. They did not feed the huge numbers like you see out West, but for their area, it was a relatively large feed yard along with a smaller cow herd.
Chris and Randy started building their Hereford breeding program at the age of 10 or 11. They worked on everything together from such a young age, including making the mating decisions for their operation. Chris reflects how they fell flat on their face growing up, but they never settled for average. If they were going to do something, they were raised to do it right. With every failure, they went back to the drawing board to come back stronger.
The pair never showed outside of Maryland until they attended their first Junior National Hereford Expo in 1987. They exhibited three head. All three stood at the bottom of their classes. They went home, however, not with their tail between their legs, but with a plan. Through hard work and dedication, the next time they exhibited at JNHE, it was with a 2nd place finish and Top 10 Showmanship Honors. In fact, after winning the Quiz Bowl as a team of two (as they were the only exhibitors from Maryland), the Hereford’s made a rule requiring a three-man team. Their mentality to always better themselves and achieve their goals has led them to be two very influential people in our industry today.
Chris and Randy were as fierce a pair of competitors as you will ever be around.
“The first person I tried to beat every day of my life was my brother [Randy] and he did the same with me. I am proud of that. We ultimately chose different paths in the livestock industry, but I strongly believe that a great deal of the success we both have had can be attributed to that part of our life” Chris reflected.
Randy’s love for cattle intensified the older he got. He was a very good student and was on the course to pre-med until he met Dan Hoge. At the age of 15, Randy was a member of the Maryland State 4-H Livestock Judging team where he finished in the Top 10 at the National Contest. After the contest, Hoge would check-in with him every 3-4 months. It took convincing of Randy’s dad to be on board with the Junior College route.
“Where we came from in Maryland there are so many four-year colleges…it’s a different mindset than the Midwest. He [my dad] was dead against it [going to a Junior College]. The beginning of that Summer he came out to Kewanee with me, and we spent a day with Dan Hoge - and that’s all it took. It’s amazing how it progressed to Chris being a Junior College teacher – that’s how quickly your mindsets can change.” Randy shared. “It changed my life forever. If I had never met Dan Hoge at that 4-H Judging Contest, who knows. We farmed and I obviously would have in some form or fashion had something to do with Agriculture and something to do with cattle. But, per say, that I would be this intensely into the Purebred Hereford business and do this, probably not.”
Following his tenure at Black Hawk, Randy followed in his brother Chris’ footsteps and graduated from Kansas State University.
“We always had a fascination with K-State. My dad would always tell this story about years ago, back in the late 50s, when my Granddad showed carloads of fat steers. He would go to the Eastern National Livestock Show. Penn State, back in that time when Herman Purdy was there, was where it was at. In 1957, my Granddad’s carload of Hereford steers beat Penn State and Don Good from Kansas State was the judge. For us, living out in Maryland, from that Don Good deal we inherently had a love for Kansas State.”
After college, Randy settled into the Midwest starting out with a handful of cows. He began with custom fitting as a means to get his genetics out there. Randy was then fortunate to be given the opportunity to start working with Tennessee River Music on their daughter Randa’s show string. With the ability to concentrate on one large custom fitting client, he quickly grew their cow numbers to over 150. When Randa’s Junior Career concluded, so did his custom fitting days.
Randy has a deep love for the purebred cattle business. “Whether it’s the Hereford business or any of the purebred businesses, the people are awesome. It’s a family atmosphere. I sit here and talk about what I could have been doing and I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.”
Over the years, Randy and his wife Jamie have made a name for themselves in the Hereford breed with their operation, Purple Reign Cattle Company. What started as a passion as a teenager has combined with his competitiveness and fundamental desire to do well at what he does has produced industry leading donors, sires, and National Champions. He has spent his career enhancing the Hereford breed to give them the respect he always knew they deserved. His goal has always been to raise incredible beef cattle.
More important than the cattle, however, are the people to Randy. “It’s amazing how a bovine can make human beings become a family. These four-legged creatures can intertwine human lives.”
The competitiveness between Chris and Randy has only gotten stronger over the years. With that competitiveness comes respect. They drive each other to be the absolute best that they can be.
“Quite honestly, if you look back 30 plus years ago, the odds are probably completely stacked against two kids from Maryland ever doing the things that we are doing. And yet, if you want it, work hard at it, in the right environment, with the right people around you, then there is no reason you can’t, and shouldn’t, accomplish whatever you put your mind to. Don’t ever let anyone stand in your way or tell you can’t accomplish it. The two of us [Randy & I] are prime examples of people who had found what we loved and made careers out of it that most people would have said could never have happened.” Said Chris. “If you love it, go for it.”